The Duel

Tony Pollard Fantasy Value Gets Huge Boost With Ezekiel Elliott Holdout News

Jason Schandl
Houston Texans v Dallas Cowboys
Houston Texans v Dallas Cowboys / Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Tony Pollard's fantasy football stock has been on the rise all preseason as Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys have remained at an impasse in talks of Zeke's contract extension.

Talks seemed to be going better here than they were for the other big RB holdout, Melvin Gordon, but, on Thursday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones dropped a bomb, saying he doesn't expect Elliott to be with the team by Week 1.

Enter Tony Pollard. He has not only been running with Cowboys' starters in the preseason, but he's essentially been the only back getting those reps. He's not only locked in as the team's starter for whatever games Zeke misses, but he's likely going to serve as a workhorse.

A fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Pollard showed a ton of versatility at Memphis. He ran the ball 78 times in his final season despite Darrell Henderson leading that backfield, and he also spent time as a wide receiver with the Tigers, catching 39 passes in 2018.

That versatility is key to replacing Elliott as an every-down back, as Dallas made a big shift to include their RBs in the passing game more in 2018, targeting Zeke 95 times.

There are a couple of reasons to consider pumping the brakes on the Pollard hype train, but neither are especially big concerns.

First, is that he's not proven at the NFL level, and we don't know how he's going to hold up to a pro workload. Volume is the most important factor in uncovering running back value, and "maybe his volume will be too much" is about as favorable a concern as you're going to find.

The other is his draft cost. His average draft position (ADP) sits at RB46 (122nd overall) per, and it's likely to climb with this recent Zeke news.

Even if he jumps from the 10th to the eighth or ninth round on average, there's still too much upside to ignore. You're not getting especially safe RBs in that range anyway (Darrell Henderson, Rashaad Penny and LeSean McCoy are RBs 36 through 38, for context), and Pollard's workhorse upside also gives him a higher ceiling than you're generally getting in that range.

Pollard's value will disappear when Zeke returns, but until that happens he's an every-week fantasy starter. As we saw with Le'Veon Bell in 2018, there's also no guarantee that we see Elliott back on the field any time soon. There's enough upside in Pollard that you can afford to put those concerns behind you and reach on the rookie with less than a week to go before the regular season kicks off.

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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.